Federations

How Federations can make the “bets” that really count for their communities

In a recent eJewish Philanthropy post, Rabbi Elie Kaunfer crafts a compelling case for “making a big bet” when investing in the Jewish community.  He notes the transformative effects of “big bets” such as Birthright, PJ Library and OneTable (helping young Jews share Shabbat dinners).

Most Federations, however, don’t have the luxury of making one “big bet.”  Instead, they face myriad competing demands to support programs and services of undeniable value to both their local and global Jewish communities.  How, then, do Federations decide which funding priorities to “bet” on – the ones that will pay off, by eliciting donor support and making their communities flourish?

One key for Federations to creating an effective funding strategy is understanding the priorities of their community – that is, identifying the programs and issues their community believes Federation should support.  In our work with various Jewish communities, we have seen significant, often surprising, differences in what communities identify as their desired funding priorities for their Federation, including:

  • Education
  • Support for Israel and global Jewry
  • Safety/security-related issues
  • Social issues (e.g., supports for vulnerable populations including the elderly, Holocaust survivors, people with disabilities, etc.)

Knowing what a community wants its Federation to fund and aligning the allocation process with those priorities can help maximize the impact of Federation’s investments.  By incorporating the community’s voice, Federations invest more than just the dollars they’ve raised… they invest community aspirations, which is more likely to translate to greater community satisfaction, participation and financial support.  Therefore, it is likely that this “bet” will literally pay off for Federation – with increased growth in the value of individual charitable donations and number of donors.

If you aren’t sure what your community’s funding priorities are, contact us.  We can help you find out.


Contact Sue Levine at slevine@meliorgroup.com or 215-545-0054 x107.